There’s this crazy British show from the seventies called “The Prisoner.” In the show this guy is obviously some kind of spy in a wacked-out futuristic England, and he is shown to be stripped of his position and before he knows it, he wakes up on this weird island. He has no idea where he is, and no idea how he got there, and everybody seems to regard his presence as totally normal. He spends the first couple episodes trying to figure out what the hell is going on, where he is, and how to escape. And oh, who the foxy women are… Before long his bizarre comfortable island life seems liveable, all the comforts are there, very little is expected of him, even though he really has no idea what is really going on. It’s like a seventies Truman Show, where everybody pretends not to know of anything “outside” but there’s this feeling that they ALL know, and they’re playing dumb. There is this unbearable tension through the whole thing, and it’s actually so strangely and slowly paced that it’s an unbearable TV series.
Well, on my bike on my way home today I saw a kid with short curly hair and tips dyed blonde – a Timorese kid that is… And I suddenly felt this crazy homesickness, a punk-induced nostalgia for a more comfortable place than this. A place where being weird is being normal, a different kind of conformity.
Here, I observed today, the I’m creating these grooves, these channels of movement here, going to the same spaces, in the same orders, for the same reasons. It’s as if Dili has basically stopped expanding to me and has taken on a finite character. I could on a map number the places I frequent and my routes between them. In many places, this routine, this consistency, while perhaps boring, would provide comfort and stability. Here, as I feel myself slipping into routine, it feels no more comfortable than the wide-eyed panic and wonderment during my first days here. I am not regarded with anyless scorn or disdain than I was at the beginning.
There is a distinct feeling of being trapped in a bizarre, cappucino and ruin-filled dream. Kind of like that seventies show “the Prisoner” that Rich tried to hook me on this summer. Everything should be so pleasant, so comfortable, because materially, if you emphasize comfort, you can have it. But there is this bizarre, continually panicked sense of dislocation and exclusion. Maybe it goes back to the dustball metaphor, that I just want to be swept up in the great dustball of the UN and have comfort in numbers, even if dirty. If I felt as brainwashed as the rest of these people here, if I just really thought that this was real life, then I would stop getting so upset about everything.